Boss Railby Evan Osnos
The New Yorker
October 22, 2012
On the morning of July 23, 2011, passengers hurried across Beijing South Station at the final call to board bullet train D301, heading south on the world’s largest, fastest, and newest high-speed railway, the Harmony Express. It was bound for Fuzhou, fourteen hundred miles away.
When the passengers for D301 reached the platform, they encountered a vehicle that looked less like a train than a wingless jet: a tube of aluminum alloy, a quarter of a mile from end to end, containing sixteen carriages, painted in high-gloss white with blue racing stripes. The guests were ushered aboard by female attendants in Pan Am-style pillbox hats and pencil skirts; each attendant, according to regulations, had to be at least five feet five inches tall, and was trained to smile with exactly eight teeth visible. A twenty-year-old college student named Zhu Ping took her seat, then texted her roommate that she was about to “fly” home on the rails. “Even my laptop is running faster than usual,” she wrote. [continue]
Update: On January 4, 2014, China Railway president Bai Zhongren jumped to his death from a fourth-story window. Zhongren suffered from depression due to his company’s huge debt and corruption scandals. China Railway Group is the state-owned engineering giant behind China's largest railway projects and was the rail model for recent U.S. passenger rail expansion.